From the new RAPS team

In the wake of the recent 2017 AGM and the June EGM, we have needed to regroup and review RAPS initiatives of past months, the things that seemed to work and those that were less successful.

We don’t believe in repeating those things from which we received low return on effort. And so we have been designing and developing a new system – an overall multi-faceted strategy that is entirely new and we are very energised around it.  This overarching strategy is more inclusive, more involving, more flexible and responsive, within and outside of the APS.

The strategies that require working from within the APS will be weakened if APS members leave the Society.  The 2018 AGM will be hosted in Sydney, the date will be announced sometime next year.  Obviously for some of RAPS strategies that will be an important date.

The unfortunate situation of the two-tier Medicare rebate has created a seemingly adversarial process between generalist psychologists and clinical psychologists. However, we are not focused upon being against the Clinicals; instead we are very focused on the best possible outcomes for all psychologists now and in the much longer term.  So, although RAPS began as a movement to Reform the APS, and we still have a strong intent in that direction, RAPS focus and associated strategies have broadened.

We also want to acknowledge that the movement known as RAPS up to and including the 2017 AGM has been centred, in part, around an open web forum.  Some have commented that negative posts have not helped them in deciding to support RAPS.  We have applied very limited moderation being reluctant to censure in the spirit of open debate.  There will be different processes in our new system where we are looking at ways the overall community can be more focused upon unification of individual efforts, while still allowing individual expression.

We want to thank everyone who voted for RAPS-supported candidates and everyone who assigned their proxies to RAPS.  All of you, and many others who are still unaware of RAPS, will be hearing more soon.  Lastly we want you to know that the RAPS team has increased its numbers significantly since the AGM result.

 

 

Post-AGM reflections on the new APS Board

Dear RAPS supporters,

We know many of your are hurting and want to strike out at the APS and leave, but we urge you to stay for the time being.

Although the spill, which was conceived with the best intentions – to give members an opportunity to choose a more representative board – has not had the outcome we intended, it does show that the high level of frustration of members should not be ignored. Although Felicity Allen and Mary Magalotti were both retiring this year, it was a great loss for the Society that Dr Michael Carr-Gregg and Jill Wright are no longer on the board.

Despite the odds, the non-clinical group contributed significantly to the start of some major changes this year, including:

  • the first board workshop in recent history on the two-tier system
  • the stand alone bridging pathways to endorsement including recognition
    of prior learning (not much detail yet!)
  • the willingness to provide endorsement pathways to DGPP members
    increased funding for the DGPP division
  • greater attention to the non-clinical Colleges
  • the willingness to mediate with Reform APS and accept them as a legitimate movement

ReformAPS has certainly increased members’ political awareness. Members are starting to use their voting power.  A record twenty four percent of members who were eligible to vote did vote at the AGM or 19% of the total membership.

Now is the time for reflection and regrouping and not making impulsive decisions. Although we appreciate that this might be difficult for you, we urge members to stay at least until July 31st next year to give the new board time to show some real progress. (You can always pay your fees quarterly.) We need to see what action they will take! 

We will be keeping the website going as a place for members to express their concerns. We need to watch and listen very closely to the progress on the one year stand alone bridging programs with recognition of prior learning. RAPS tentatively supports the concept of bridging programs, with the qualification that we haven’t seen any details yet, provided that the two tier system is removed. 

(Perhaps if all DGPP members bridge into the Counselling College, it could become the dominant faction!)

We need to continue to engage more members as still so many members have not heard of RAPS. We need your help with that!

We need refresh out leadership team and this year has taken a high toll on Jenny and Sophie. Among other initiatives, we will be holding meetings in all states to reconnect with you all.

If the situation is no better next year and the board has not fulfilled its promises, then members may decide to leave en masse – but it would have to be to an organisation that has the potential to unite all the splinter groups and form a new ‘peak’ body.

There are over 20,000 non-clinical registered psychologists in Australia today (compared to 7,931 clinical psychologists) who could form such a body and speak directly to government.

Remember the APS has many services that you will not find elsewhere, such as the helpline, the CPD log and the scientific resources – not to mention potential for collegiality.

Newly elected Joe Gagliano also needs our strong support as the only non-clinical director on the board and the only DGPP member after the other four non-clinical directors are gone.

Alongside the views stated in this Post which focuses on the APS Board, we are also developing ideas about building further a community of APS and non-APS psychologists. A community of RAPS supporters already exists, and we believe it is crucial now to increase the number of those involved and the quality of exchanges among them. We will write to you about that shortly.

Comments from members: Stay or leave?

Member: “I read with alarm to move by some to leave the APS:

1. Another group will not have the long term visibility and credibility the APS has acquired over the years.

2. The clinicals would love all the generalists to leave. They would then concentrate all the long term visibility and credibility we have all contributed in the APS to further their own position and actively work to make the new group second rate and easily dismissed.

3. We failed to win this time because the clinicals were better organized and politically savvy. By staying in the APS and getting better organized, we can fight another day. We have the numbers but not the the support of our own constituents. Get organized, become more politically savvy and beat the clinicals at their own game. Make this lot accountable.”

Member: “I appreciate your disappointment but strongly recommend you watch what happens over the next year or so. Yes, I am a Clin Psych, but strongly believe that most college members need to only complete a mental health competency to get equivalence.”

Member: I hope that Joe will be able to create a change so that the DGPP can operate under the same group structure as the APS Colleges with funding allocated accordingly. I don’t care if we are not called a College! What does “college” mean anyway within the context of the APS? Who engineered this? In my opinion its a mess.

Member: “I have joined the Australian Association of Psychologists. I will stay with the APS as well, at least for a year, however I believe the Board in its current form will not have the motivation to address the inequities. They will be motivated to protect their unwarranted privileged position. I have been registered for a year and I am shocked at the lack of transparency in the APS. The fact that a College that has 20% of the membership has gained almost full control of the Board is unconscionable.”

Member: Dear RAPS with great respect for your huge efforts!
So far we have gone backwards! Why not a new body that all registered Psychs can join? Sorry but I think RAPS needs a new focus. The APS in my view is an ancient outmoded public service focused organisation and it has totally forgotten about “real practitioners.”

POST 10 by Concerned Psychologists

PSYCHOLOGISTS ARE UNDERPAID – FEE LEVELS NOT JUST A MEDICARE TIERS PROBLEM

The APS Recommended Fee Schedule shows fees well above $200 per chargeable hour. (See APS website for latest schedule.) Our quick survey of workers’ compensation schemes’ fee schedules for psychologists around Australia (thanks Dr Google) indicates fee levels above $180 per hour – significant in that workers’ compensation authorities are not noted for their generosity in this area. Their fee levels are based on actuarial models of professional practice. Below that level, practices may not survive and government-desired services may be reduced.

But in reality fees charged by many psychologists are much lower than this “break even” threshold. Are they too low? We have estimated that even with the most optimistic estimates of practice costs (e.g. rental of accommodation, administrative costs) and proportion of one’s time that is chargeable (24 hours a week, or 60% of a 40-hour week for 46 weeks of the year), fees charged must exceed $100 per hour for the practice to just break even. Anything less is “failure territory”. Yet many psychologists, especially those dependent on Medicare rebates for their income (notably the lower tier), are working in this territory and likely to ‘go under’.

No wonder there is so much angst about the two-tier system of Medicare rebates! The least the APS can do is press for a much higher lower-tier level, even if governments (public servants as well as politicians) can’t be persuaded to make it the same as the top tier.

Should we stay or leave?

Member: I support Dr Jones’ notion of staying within the APS because the APS has been able (via our support unfortunately) to apparently gain some status/recognition by government departments and media; and that a splinter group would reinforce the clinical strong-hold and leave us unrepresented. I cannot believe that the spill eventuated the way it did; however, this eventuation would suggest evidence that an attempt to form a separate body would result in an autonomous and voiceless minority group.

I also support Dr Jones’ notion of research in this area; however, believe it folly that we are in this situation because the basis of the Clinical Psychologists being paid higher is on a perception (face-value bias; Barnum-effect) rather than the hard-evidence that the Clinical Psychologists are supposed to be the ‘champions’ of.

I believe it is unethical for the APS to allow this deception to continue, and that it is of utmost ethical importance that the government and Australian society be made aware of the false-perception that has been allowed to develop.

Break down on the number of votes at the 2017 APS AGM By Clive Jones PhD MAPS

Twenty Four percent of members who were eligible to vote did vote. This equates to around 19.6% of the total number of members (including voting and non-voting members). Because of the difficulty I had in differentiating between voting members and non-voting members across the subgroups I will stick to percentages that relates to the total membership (i.e., both voting and non-voting members).

The information below is derived from: (1) APS 2017 Annual Report Profile of the APS membership 2017; and (2) Computershare’s communication at the AGM on the number of votes for each subcategory of voting undertaken. Remember, these are ‘as close as possible’ estimates.

NOTE: the info below does not include any numbers re: the spill.

Total number of members who voted

22842 total members of the APS

– 4476 voted

– 19.6% of total membership voted

College of Clinical Psych Members who voted

4773 total members in the college of clinical psychologists

– 20.9% of total APS membership

– 1648 voted

– 36.82% of all who voted

– 34.53% of the clinical college membership voted

Colleges other than Clinical Psych Members who voted

4718 total members in all other APS colleges combined other than clinical

– 20.65% of total membership

– 1138 voted

– 25.42% of all who voted

– 24.12% of the total college membership (other than clinical) voted

Non-college Members (DGPP) who voted

13,351 total APS members who are not members of any college

– 58.45% of total membership

– 1426 voted

– 31.86% of all who voted

– 10.68% of the total non-college membership (DGPP) voted

SOME POINTS TO PONDER

  • – For the vote to be a true representative sample of the APS membership 58.45% would have been from DGPP members, 20.90% from Clinical College Members and 20.65% from all other college members
  • – Instead the vote was made up of 31.86% DGPP, 36.82% Clinical College and 25.42% from the collective eight (8) other colleges (DRET made up some of the missing small % with the rest of the vote where I couldn’t determine which subcategory re: college or DGPP they went)
  • – The College of Clinical Psychologists made up most of the vote at 36.82% from 34.53% of their membership
  • – The DGPP made up 31.86% of the vote from 10.68% of their membership
  • – The eight (8) colleges other than clinical made up 25.42% of the vote from 24.12% of their collective total membership

POINTS TO PONDER ABOUT COLLEGE SPECIALITIES

  • – The eight (8) colleges combined membership of 4718 is less than the total membership of the single APS college of Clinical Psychologists at 4773. We have clearly reached a critical tipping point with this.
  • – This skew in membership numbers shows a perpetuating structural bias in the systems where psychology sits resulting in an ongoing and ever-growing overrepresentation of one speciality to the detriment of all other specialities.

POINTS TO PONDER ABOUT NON-ENDORSED ‘GENERALIST’

  • – The DGPP has more members than all nine (9) colleges combined
  • – The DGPP has nearly three times the number of members than the College of Clinical Psychologists
  • – If the DGPP were to activate 34.54% of their membership to vote (equivalent to the APS College of Clinical Psychologists 34.54% of members who voted this time) this would bring the number of DGPP votes up to 4610, which is only 163 members short of the whole clinical college membership.
  • – The DGPP has had elected in to the ranks a RAPS endorsed candidate to the APS board.

Overall, quite interesting developments so far.

Do we want to stay in the APS or leave

A post-AGM spontaneous debate has arisen in emails and comments about whether we should stay in the APS or leave it and start a new process. We’d like to publish views expressing both positions, encourage more discussion on these matters, and then organise a poll to see what RAPS supporters are thinking.

Here is the first instalment, in favour of staying and reforming, by Dr Clive Jones:

‘I personally think at this stage maintaining the RAPS movement from within the APS is the way to go. What transpires down the track who knows but I think it’s early days in terms of RAPS and its potential influence as a movement from within the APS. There’s lots coming up in the pipeline re: bridging courses etc that would benefit the close scrutiny from the RAPS crew! Leaving the APS would have everyone out of the loop of these developments.

 I also think it’s time to start putting together a formal research project to compare again the outcome of the two tiers. Some of us are discussing how to go about it.

 

Reflecting after the Spill

Look, I know we were all upset by what happened.

At the same time, let’s remember a few things.  We have our health.  We have good educations and professions.

We have loved ones.

So what did we do?

We became concerned about the direction of our profession and we did our absolute utmost to be involved and to improve it.

I think we can, and we should, hold our heads up high.

Remember that all of the people now asking why we didn’t do this and saying we should have done that – had the same opportunities to act as we had.

They’re critics, we’re doers.

Sleep tight and we’ll move onwards calmly.

History of the Spill

Many members are confused about the spill and how we ended up with this disastrous result of losing all the non-clinical directors on the APS Board. Here is what happened.

When the request for the spill was signed by 100 members in April, RAPS expected it to take place soon after. At that time, RAPS believed the only fair and reasonable thing to do was to spill all the directors and let members vote in a whole new board. This view was supported by legal advice.

They particularly wanted the new board to reconsider the governance changes being recommended. The Governance Review Committee that made them was once again over represented with clinical members which influenced their proposals.

But the APS Board acted quickly to avoid the spill by bringing forward the date of the Governance Review at a date cunningly chosen to avoid having to add the spill to the Agenda.

This change of date created a major distraction for RAPS, and they were forced to put the spill on hold and fight against the governance changes at the EGM on June 6. (They lost blocking these by only 1%)

The changes passed to the Constitution meant that members voting rights were highly restricted and non-clinical members would only be able to get two more directors on the board at the most – a DGPP member and the president elect. The other two positions had been given to the Clinical College – which in our view should have gone to the other Colleges – and DPRET, a tiny academic minority who are mostly clinical.

After the EGM in June, RAPS tried to call for a general meeting to bring on the spill. However members were fatigued, confused and disillusioned after the shenanigans of the EGM – they had had to sign too many documents by then.

Then the board again manipulated dates by calling the AGM unusually early, further confusing members about the Call for a General meeting for the RAPS Spill.

RAPS was forced to wait until the AGM to have the spill. By then they realized if everyone was spilled, under the new governance changes, they would only have 2 non-clinicals on the new board. 

What was originally intended as a chance for members to vote in a whole new board, was no longer possible because it had been overtaken by events.

By this time, two of the non-clinical members (Felicity Allen and Mary Magalotti) were coming to the end of their terms on the Board.  So RAPS advised members not to spill the two remaining non-clinical directors: Michael Carr-Gregg and Jill Wright. 

This gave the Clinical College an opportunity to go on a witch hunt against all the non-clinical directors who had been a thorn in their side all year, who had lost their majority on the board through further clever strategies by the clinicals.

We now have a board with 7 out of 8 clinical directors – in other words,  the clinical faction that represents only 20% of the members now have full control of Society.

 

Joe thanks RAPS supporters

“Dear RAPS supporters,

I have been amazed at the result. Amazed that all the non-clinicals were spilled.  Devastatingly atrocious. Very sad to lose some pretty marvellous people, with amazing knowledge and talent.

Amazed at the result of my election to the Board. I would like to thank everyone who went to the trouble of being involved, and voting to put me onto the Board.

There were some people who put in herculean efforts in contacting as many people as they could, and when I met them yesterday I was amazed at the generosity of spirit, and esprit de corps shown and commitment to believe in their actions.

I would also like to thank all those who went to the efforts of putting in the proxies, and all those who voted for me.

I am determined and committed. Thank you.”

Joe Gagliano